Block 1, Week 1: E-Learning and Digital Cultures | #edcmooc | BENDITO MACHINE III

This blog is temporarily getting re-purposed.  I will be posting my responses as part of the coursework for a Coursera MOOC out of the University of Edinburgh, E-Learning and Digital Cultures

BENDITO MACHINE III depicts a group of “villagers” who worship any new technology that comes along. They are shown, both literally and figuratively, putting new technology on a pedestal and blindly following it with no critical thought about the usefulness of it or the impact of it on their existing lives. In fact, the villagers seem to have no existing lives at all, other than mutely and dumbly watching and hearing what the technology has to “say”. This continues on until … a new technology comes along. At that point, all previous technologies are thrown into the trash heap and forgotten.

Even more disturbing, the actual message being blindly consumed by the villagers is completely nonsensical. The visual and audio snippets are an amalgamation of retro commercials, news stories and movies put together in a haphazard fashion, and as such, are incomprehensible. For example, one “message” includes components of a doll commercial, toothpaste commercial, cooking show, car commercial, cartoon, a shot of Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting, psychedelic imagery, a makeup remover commercial and a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot toy commercial. The black and white cartoonish faces interspersed within look menacing, lending an uneasy feeling to the content.

Different villagers are seen fetching the “newest” technology at random times and when that technology arrives, it is from some presumably centralized bureaucracy. However, there is no sign that the villagers have a choice or even expect to have a choice; they seem to be blindly-willing consumers of the next “big thing”.

This film has definite dystopian undertones. The villagers are de-humanized and de-democratized by technology. To them, technology is a god to be worshipped, rather than a tool to be utilized. There is an undertone of totalitarian government and cult-like behavior, as well. The villagers request new technology and it is given to them “from above” with no comment, no argument and no choice. The message is gibberish, yet it is totally and numbly accepted by the villagers without a second thought. The villagers’ society is shown headed into oblivion because the villagers are not thinking, not integrating technology into their lives. Rather, they are simply consuming it and then thoughtlessly tossing it away when the next tech gizmo arrives.


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